Fill your belly for less during Downtown Dining Week

An annual tradition returns to downtown Syracuse today, and this year the event is dishing out more deals than ever before.

This is the first year 25 restaurants have signed up to offer a three course meal for $25 or less during "Downtown Dining Week". Big Slim's Grill, Elbow Room, and Parisa have joined 22 other restaurants. You can see a full list here.

Last year, around 35,000 people came to the Armory Square area to enjoy the event. Organizers say it helps businesses during winter months, which tend to be slow.

"This has really proven to be a huge boost in business for the downtown restaurants," says Merike Treier, the Executive Director of the Downtown Committee. "They get a lot of new patrons that are coming in."

The event is also offering new features this year. AmeriCU Credit Union is selling Downtown Dining Week gift cards. There will be a film series at Al's Wine and Whiskey Lounge. "Some Like it Hot" will be shown on February 19, and "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" will be shown on February 26. Also, anyone with a Downtown Dining receipt can skate at the Clinton Square Ice Rink for half price.

Local restaurant owners say the event does a good job bringing people downtown and getting them to try something new.

"Most of us don't polish off three courses when we go out to eat someplace, so it's a great way for them to sample the whole range of things," says Stephen Morrison, owner of the Mission Restaurant. "Of course I look for the praise, and I hope they'll be back."

Downtown Dining Week will run from February 15-29 this year. Reservations are recommended.